It finished 1-1. And that seems fair. There was something just so ‘middle of the road’ about the game: it wasn’t dire, but it was far from pulsating. While certain passages were precise, others were a mess. It was quick at moments, a snail’s pace at others. Fatigue possibly? Lest one forget Barça have played 8 games in 33 days prior to tonight. Either way, a far from memorable match but a decent result nevertheless. The trip to the Mestalla is in the top percentile of match difficulty, arguably the 3rd toughest match of the season, and leaving with a draw is no shame. The goal was never to win 38 games, the goal is to win the league and this result is a step forward in that direction.
The season heats up with a trip to the Spanish Capitol for the first leg of the Copa Semi-finals. After that, a short trip south to Valencia for Liga matchday 22. Should be an intense week!
- Real Madrid v Barcelona • Wednesday January 30 • Copa semi-finals first leg
- Valencia v Barcelona • Sunday February 3 • Liga Matchday 22
This midday at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s first team has continued its preparations for the visit of Valencia tonight at 21:30. Tito Vilanova has 23 players available, including Dani Alves and Carles Puyol, who were able to train with the group. The two defenders both missed Wednesday’s Spanish Super Cup second leg against Madrid. Alves was a last minute drop with swelling in the thigh of his right leg, while Puyol, with a broken right cheekbone, preferred to not risk exacerbating the injury.
This is your chance to prove not only your knowledge about the game of football, but also your psychological insight by cracking the code of Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova’s master brain:
Predict Barcelona’s Starting Lineup
This is not (as in: N-O-T) a place for discussion on team tactics or personal player preferences. You just give the system and the eleven names you think will start the game. Line-ups posted in the comments sections will not be considered as valid entries for the game.
Join us after the jump to take part in the game.
After a day off on Friday, FC Barcelona’s first team returned to training this Saturday morning to continue preparing for the duel on Sunday against Valencia (21:30). Present at the session was Alves, who worked with the group for the first time since the swelling in his right thigh was detected. Puyol was also able to train for part of the session with the rest of his teammates. The group training today also included Thiago, who received his medical clearance on Thursday, and Tello, from Barça B.
FC Barcelona’s first team held its final training session this Sunday morning before the game with Valencia this evening. The same players who trained on Saturday again worked under Pep Guardiola on the pitch of the Camp Nou. The coaches have 21 footballers at their disposal -17 from the first team and 4 from Barça B- for the visit of Unai Emery’s side.
There was good news for FC Barcelona and Josep Guardiola this Tuesday afternoon, as Pedro and Iniesta trained normally with the rest of the group ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match against Valencia. The two players had trained for only part of the session on Monday.
Also present were six players from Barça B: Tello, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Montoya, Bartra, and Muniesa.
Guardiola has called up the same 18 players who traveled to Villarreal this past weekend (0-0) for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final match at the Mestalla. The list includes the 15 available players from the first team (now including Cuenca) and three players from Barça B: Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, and Tello. The only players missing are Afellay, Villa, Fontàs, Pedro, and Iniesta, out with injuries, and Keita, away with the Mali national team at the African Cup of Nations.
Earlier this season, David Villa didn’t celebrate when he scored against Sporting Gijon, the club where he started his career. Add another one to the list. Villa told the club’s official site that he would restrain his happy mood if he does manage to score against his former club Valencia on Oct 17, when they come to Camp Nou. “I will try to score,” he said. “I’m a professional and I’m defending Barca’s colours but it’s the same as against Sporting. I have a great deal of affection for Valencia and in respect to all the people there and for all those who have made me better, I will not celebrate.”
Valencia sporting director Fernando Gomez, on Tuesday acknowledged that Valencia will have to let go of one or more of their star players next summer to address the serious economic crisis faced by the club, according to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.
“There will come a moment when it (the debt) just will not be possible to bear any more and if we have to sell, we’ll sell,” Gomez said, referring to the David Villa and David Silva. Last summer, Valencia refused to sell its two stars, resisting several offers from several big clubs like Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Gomez however did not regret having to retain both players saying, “We made a great effort to keep them this summer, but the economic situation remains very serious. It was a wise move to hold on to them because there was an increase in the capital in March,” he said.
In an interview with the Spanish national daily ABC, Valencia’s Chairman Manuel Llorente revealed that he was very clear when faced with the decision whether or not to sell the club’s top striker, David Villa saying, “when I came into the Presidency this issue was already initiated, but I was not swayed (by the offers), (not for any player) much less for Villa.”
The Chairman explained in detail how the negotiations were conducted and was pleased with himself for being able to retain the Asturian-born player. “Real Madrid offered 42 million euros, but we preferred (a swap deal for) Negredo – before he was sold by Real Madrid to Sevilla – plus 30 million”. The proposal of Barcelona was similar. “When the negotiations was held, I put (in certain) conditions and in the end think it is best if Villa remain at Valencia,” he explained.
I dont know if its the fucking T.D.T (Digital Terrestrial Television) or if I have pressed a wrong button…But this Barcelona seems to be playing in slow motion!
Puyol: Valencia wants to scare us by dressing up as Spartans, but…….they’re gonna soil their pants when they see this!!
Chygrynskiy: Is this normal?
Years defending the Barcelona goalmouth Victor Valdes could smell what was coming. While his companions entered the field slightly sleepy, he went out with his five senses in a state of alert, and how it was justified, proclaim Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo. The first minute of the game already saw him coming face to face with Pablo Hernandez. There was no time to ask questions or to place blame. He decided not to rush out, waited just long enough to close all the angles. And he avoided the 1-0 when some spectators were still looking for their seats.
He was the key that keeps Barcelona in the match in the first half. Barcelona lost too many balls under pressure from Valencia, who launched dangerous counterattacks that died at the hands of Valdes, always attentive to everything that was happening in and near his area.
After one of the most difficult first half (against Valencia) in recent memory, Txiki Begiristain discussed with the Catalan sports paper Sport, some aspects of the present Blaugrana team with special emphasis on the possibility of undertaking a signing during the winter transfer market, especially of Brazilian Robinho.
The Barcelona technical secretary also acknowledged that the club had unsuccessfully tried to secure the former Real Madrid player’s services earlier this year. “Last summer we already try to sign Robinho and that was that. He is now on the verge of returning from injury and …we are prepared if there exists the possibility of doing something. The club will always be in the market if we had to reinforce any position,” Begiristain insist.
Nevertheless, Txiki keeps on defending the argument that the team is numerically sufficient and he has asked for patience because in his opinion everything is working as expected. “The start of the season is still very good and we have to wait and see how the team keeps on evolving. I also hope the injured players will recover as soon as possible, Chygrynskiy, Henry and hopefully Milito too. Furthermore, it is still too early to talk about these things,” he added.
Speaking to Spanish news agency EFE after last night’s goalless draw against Barcelona, Unai Emery said the merits for victory should have gone to Valencia. “We are satisfied with the match and are disappointed that we could not win it,” said Emery, who also noted that Valencia has now went two games without conceding a goal and had enough chances to win the clash had it not for his team lacked of accuracy.
“As a whole, we had more options than Barcelona in the encounter, playing better counter-attacking football, and preventing them from creating opportunities,” he said. Touching on the absence of David Villa, the coach said that he is a very competitive player and had wanted to be with the team. “The (team) doctor and the player have weigh the pros and cons and in the end we have decided that he was not (ready). He was in no condition (to play),” he said.
Pep Guardiola admitted the team achieved “a good point against a good rival, who did very well” after the goalless draw at the Mestalla last night, reports Catalan sports paper Sport.
“The result is there. We came here to win and if we have not succeeded it is because they have created difficulties for us. We are incapable of winning all 38 games in the league,” he said when asked if he was sad about not having achieved victory. “The league is an (on-going) process and we prefer stability (as opposed to ups and downs),” he said when asked if he sees the draw as a step forward rather than a step back, and he insisted that the result is still positive for the team.
Guardiola also said Barcelona had played very well against a good team that puts them under a lot of pressure. “They close spaces well, creating problems for us, especially in the first half but in the second half, we had more of the ball and we were better against a team that had already created problems for us last year,” he said. “There was no man-marking but I do not think that our opponents are beginning to get the better of us. We’ve tried to change things to improve (our game), but we cannot win forever,” the Barcelona coach admits.
We have here a compilation of the first reactions (literally minutes after the game) of four of the top Spanish-based sports paper to Barcelona’s 0-0 away draw with Valencia.
Catalunya based Sport, has the first reaction to the draw with an article titled “Barca snatched a point at Mestalla and still leads”. The paper starts by saying how the match last night was strange for the fact that both teams did not have a true centre-forward with the omission of David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the teams’ line-up.
Given the nature of the make-shift attacking line-up for both teams, the paper said it is no wonder the match lack “punch”, more of a to and fro match with Valencia dominating the first half and Barcelona the second.
Certainly not vintage Barcelona, however it is not often that a team returns to their former best after returning from an International break in which two games are played.
Right from the first twiddle of the flute Valencia were on the front foot, as Pablo Hernandez latched onto a centimetre perfect through ball, only to be blocked by the out rushing Victor Valdes.
From this moment forth Barcelona struggled to find space in the seemingly shrunken Estadio Mestalla pitch, as Valencia’s pressure saw them break away on the counter attack time and time again. As chances from Silva, Pablo again and the in-form Jeremy Mathieu went begging.
At the pre-match press conference today, picked up by Catalan paper El Mundo Deportivo, Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona coach said that “hopefully” David Villa, doubtful for the match this Saturday, is able to play because “I want to contrast the best players and best conditions.” “We have prepared for the match with both Villa and Zigic in mind,” said Pep, who stressed that the inclusion of either one “will not determine the team (selection).” Talking about Villa, he said that “if he is not completely well, they will not risk him but the risk seem to be minimal.”
The late return of the many international players always complicates matter and has always provide the coach with a challenge. In Mestalla “everyone agrees” that this is one of the “toughest matches of the year,” and Pep warned that Valencia is a “very good team” with an attacking line-up made up of “extremely high quality players.” To win in Valencia, according to Guardiola, “will reinforce (our position) us significantly”, but he does not see it as being in a commanding position saying, “There is a lot of league matches (still to be played).”
Three time top goalscorer in La Liga, Valencia and Spanish international David Villa (27) has been named in a 19 man squad set to face Barcelona tonight at the Mestalla.
Villa sustained an injury to his right femoral bicep during Valencia’s encounter with Racing Santander last round.
Unai Emery has named an extra player in the squad in case Villa fails to pull up in time for the game.
Valencia face Barcelona at the Estadio Mestalla tonight at 22:00 Barcelona time.